I felt a nervous energy buzzing around the periphery of my senses, and I smiled excitedly as I drove along. I trailed behind my husband as we drove out of town to trade in our two vehicles for a single one that would more readily serve our upcoming needs. I was happy, anxious, joyful, and jittery, all at the same time. Being a grown-up was crazy, right?
As we motored along my eyes drifted to the left side of the road, and I smiled at a familiar outdoor mall. And by familiar I mean I had visited there in the last decade. Maybe. Any outings beyond family ones were rare, and I realized I hadn’t visited this particular shopping spot in eleven years, actually! I then fondly recalled my husband taking me there for a date on my thirtieth Birthday.
It had been early August, a blazing hot end of summer, and after walking around outside we had stopped at a restaurant’s bar for a cool drink. If I thought about it I could still remember the pale ale we had, complete with an orange slice on the rim.
I could use a drink right now, I thought.
Having a cold beer on a hot day was almost as American as apple pie. It was a common accompaniment to Super Bowl, and I enjoyed many an outdoor, professional baseball game with a cool brew in hand.
Tired, overworked medical professionals would unwind after a difficult shift with a nice, stiff drink, and some physicians and nurses I worked alongside had recently joked about just that.
How many moms called wine their “Mommy Juice?” And if I had a dollar for every exasperated mom with wine meme on Facebook I’d be a rich lady.
So while I had made the decision not to drink alcohol anymore, and I didn’t want it to boot, sometimes I wished that I could partake without consequence like so many others seemed to be able to do. After a long day a glass of red wine sounded nice, and in moments of celebration and nerves like today, a cold beer sounded amazing! But then it didn’t too. And that’s what made me different.
I thought about the last time I had drunk. It was a bottle of wine on our wedding anniversary, an overnight celebration away from home. I had proven to myself over the proceeding five years or so that I could control my alcohol consumption. I had successfully gone from having an overindulgence/drinking problem to being able to just have a drink or two on special occasions about once every six months. I had proven to myself that I was stronger than my addictions, and I could stay within the limits I set for myself.
Yet there I was in our room, having drunk most of the bottle of wine by myself, searching the minibar of the bed and breakfast for a beer or something to keep that good buzz going. Even in my happy tinglies, I realized the feeling was familiar. It was a feeling that liked the effects of alcohol. A lot. It was the feeling of weakness, of lack of control, and it reminded me of my old self. The woman who couldn’t control her drinking. I didn’t want to be her anymore.
So, I didn’t drink anymore. I had to admit I couldn’t drink anymore, or rather, I shouldn’t drink anymore. Somewhere inside me was an alcoholic, and I didn’t want my children to see that woman. I was proud she was gone. I was disappointed that I was weak, but I was also proud that I could admit my lack of control that dwelt below the surface.
I think many of us have problems others don’t see. Some people keep sadness hid behind a smile. Others keep addiction under a rug. The fact is we’re all weak in one way or another. It’s admitting that truth that brings freedom. I wish I could celebrate with a drink sometimes, but I can’t. I am weak, I am human, and that’s okay. Seeing weakness in yourself is often times where real strength lies.